I recently received an email from Katherine, an adjunct instructor who teaches three different business courses at a community college in Illinois. She writes: "I can't seem to get organized in finding time to have a life. How can I structure my courses so that my students are engaged and I don't have so much work to do? I am staying up until 3-4:00 a.m. and then getting up at 5:00 for an one-hour drive to the college."
This is an issue that I think we all struggle with. We get into teaching because we care about our students and want to do a good job of educating them. But as Katherine states, we can spend a lot of time preparing for classes and grading that doesn't always seem productive. My answer to her:
It's hard to answer this without knowing what you are teaching. I try to schedule class activities that will be beneficial but not require as much grading. So in a class of 40 students, instead of doing individual papers, assign group projects/presentations to teams of 4-5 students. Put together a grade sheet that allows you to check off comments instead of writing all these on each paper. Give tests that are partially objective (for example, in HR Management classes when I am teaching about employment laws, I can give the students a scenario and then ask which law applies and they can answer this in M/C format). Assign homework and then randomly pick which problems you will grade. After giving back tests so students can see how they did, take these back up and keep them/use some of the questions again another semester.
How about you? How do you schedule your workload to satisfy your intrinsic motivation to be a good teacher and yet also have time to have a personal life?